As the game turned from tight and tense to wild and weird, a late-night wind invaded Citizens Bank Park.
It picked up hot dogs wrappers and lifted them from one section to the next. It tossed game notes and pens to and fro in the press box.
It also provided the Phillies with their first sign of home field advantage in what’s been a challenging first two months of the season in South Philly.
Marlon Byrd led off the bottom of the 14th inning with a towering fly ball to right field. The ball looked to be headed toward the fence off the bat, but then hung up in the air long enough and moved around so much that Chris Young camped under it only to watch it pop out of his glove.
Three batters later, Reid Brignac ended a near, 5 1/2 hour game by ripping a single to left, bringing Byrd home with the game-winning run and sending the Phillies home for the morning with a 6-5 win.
“Good win,” manager Ryne Sandberg said of a game that took 5 hours and 23 minutes to play. “The guys hung in there and battled.”
The victory was just the 12th of the season in the 28 games they’ve played at Citizens Bank Park. Byrd’s fly ball that became an error and a few wind-impaired balls earlier in extra innings helped the Phillies turn their fortune around at home, at least for one night.
“It saved me,” said Justin De Fratus, who pitched the final two innings to collect his first win of the season. “David Wright hit one that I thought had a chance. (The wind) definitely picked up in the later part of the game. Chris Young hit a slider foul that carried 15 rows back. It definitely picked up, but it worked out for us.”
Entering the 14th, neither the Phillies or the Mets had scored in the previous eight innings.
While Mother Nature helped the Phillies in the decisive 14th, the much-maligned bullpen wasn’t too bad, either. After a shaky outing from A.J. Burnett, six Phillies relievers combined for seventh shutout innings.
De Fratus was the last man out of the ‘pen, throwing consecutive shutout innings. Jake Diekman, Mike Adams, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo and Mario Hollands also shut down a Mets offense that had scored five times in the game’s first five innings.
“They gave us a chance,” Sandberg said.
Adams, who escaped a Bastardo-induced bases-loaded, no-out jam on Wednesday, loaded the bases all by himself in the top of the ninth inning. But then he needed just three pitches to retire the Mets’ hottest hitter of the night on strikes: 40-year-old Bobby Abreu, who stole his 400th career base an inning earlier to go along with two hits, a walk and two RBI, struck out to end the Mets’ rally.
“From the bullpen perspective it’s awesome to go out there and throw up that many zeroes,” De Fratus said. “We build off that and it keeps going.”
Since Burnett finished strong, his 12 start of the season could be best described as effectively wild.
After a 1-2-3 first, Burnett walked back-to-back batters to begin the second. Both would come around to score. He allowed another walk after Juan Lagares led off the fifth with an infield single; both of them would also come around to score.
Burnett needed 98 pitches to get through the first five innings.
But in finding consistency in his final two frames, when he needed just 18 pitches to retire six straight Mets hitters, Burnett was able to hand the ball over to the bullpen in a far more favorable position. Burnett was charged with five runs on five hits and six walks in seven innings; he struck out 11.
Burnett became the first pitcher to go at least seven innings with at least six walks and 11 strikeouts in a game since Randy Johnson in 1999.
“I wasn’t all over he place, just missing here and there,” Burnett said. “But six (walks) is a lot. And they scored. And that’s why we’re here in a 1 o’clock game. You just keep grinding and finding a way to go out there, and I think it was one of those games where I got stronger as it went on.”
After Burnett put the Phillies in a 3-0 hole after two innings, his offense got one run back in the third and then, in the fourth, the coldest hitter in the lineup put them in front. Domonic Brown, who entered his second at-bat of the night batting .199 on the season, hit a high fly ball into the first few rows of the right field bleachers for his fourth home run of the season.
Brown’s three-run shot put the Phillies up 4-3. Brown, who came out of the game in the eighth inning as part of a double switch, finished the night 1-for-4 with four RBI.
“Good to see,” Sandberg said of the struggling Brown. “Right on time.”
Brown’s home run was his third in his last 12 games after hitting just one in his first 38 games of the season.
ROLLINS RECORD WATCH: Jimmy Rollins (2-for-5) singled in each of his first two at-bats to inch closer to Mike Schmidt’s franchise record for hits. With 2,223 career hits, Rollins is 12 hits away from moving past Schmidt (2,234). Rollins already owns the franchise record for doubles (464) and is second in stolen bases, extra-base hits, total bases, games and at-bats.